UPDATE: Apollo Theatre Collapse Due to 'Heavy Downpour' One Hour Before Performance
The Telegraph is reporting that emergency services believe the ceiling collapse of the Apollo Theatre was "probably caused by an abnormally heavy downpour swamping the roof".
According to the report, almost one-seventh of the average monthly rainfall for the whole month of December soaked the city of London in the hour before the disaster occured.
The Metropolitan Police had earlier confirmed that they are satisfied that no criminal activity had caused the incident.
Mark Field, the MP for the City of London and Westminster, explained, "Probably what happened was that we had this flash flood-type thunderstorm and there may have been a problem with the drainage and water settled on the roof. I'm sure there will be some urgent checks being made at other theatres on drainage, but the overall message is that it's business as usual. It's important to remember that although these buildings go back to Victorian times there has been a significant amount of investment in recent years to bring them up to date."
The 112-year-old building has been shut down until January 4 to give investigators time to work out exactly how the accident happened as well as remove any remaining wooden beams and chunks of plaster which covered the fully packed house.
Seven people were seriously injured and 80 others hurt in the incident, which occurred during a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
The London Fire Brigade is reporting that more than 100 sq ft of plaster from the ceiling had fallen. West End stage chiefs have been assuring the public that other historic theatres in the West End theatre district were indeed safe to visit. The owners of all the major venues in London came together at a meeting today in which they confirmed that their safety inspections and certificates were up to date. They also promised full co-operation to the authorities.
A spokesman for the Society of London Theatre said it was an "extremely rare" incident, and added, "Our theatres entertain over 32,000 people in central London every night and all theatres take the safety of their audience, performers and staff very seriously."
The collapse comes at the height of the London tourist season, perhaps the biggest time of the year for the theatre industry.